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Best Fish Finder Reviews and Buying Guide of 2017

If you're looking for a best fish finder, you may have noticed that pretty much all of the fish finder reviews will tell you the same thing: One of the most bittersweet struggles of an avid angler, or indeed, a sea-bound mariner is, quite unsurprisingly- finding fish!

If you're one of them, why not obtain a fish finder! - a contraption so advanced that it can detect not only fish but also rocks, old bikes, fridges and other non-fish obstacles. If you feel like it, you could as well take it for a treasure hunting trip!

The Best Fish Finders on The Market!


Why You Need A Fish Finder

You need a good fish finder because you want to make the most out of your fishing excursions. There is nothing more frustrating than floating about aimlessly in a body of water with nothing to show at the end of the day.

If you happen to be fishing for food, a fish finder will maximize your efforts. You can return home with a plentiful bounty of fresh fish. What you save in grocery costs will more than pay for the fish finder, GPS enabled.

Types of Fish Finders

Best Fish Finders

You will have to choose one of three basic styles of fish finders. There are so many functions available on these products. I will walk you through them now so you can find the best fish finder for the money.

Standalone Fish Finder:

Firstly, standalone fish finders are the most economical. If you want to buy the best fish finder under $200, consider the standalone option. These models will display what is below your boat and often have larger screens for the price point.

Standalone fish finders have no GPS capabilities. You can sometimes add a GPS sensor after you’ve purchased a standalone unit. This option works best for small boats used in inland lakes. You may find that a 3D fish finder is right for you.

Combination fishfinder/chartplotter:

If you have a mid sized boat, a little cash to spend, and like fishing large bodies of water, a combo unit is best. You get GPS functions and the opportunity to view your surroundings in split screen.

Networked system:

Networked fish finder systems are for the big boys and girls. They literally have everything you could possibly dream of in terms of functions. You will have access to radar, raster and vector GPS charts, video, and SiriusXM satellite radio.

You may also get Bluetooth/WiFi with remote control possible through your smart device. Networked fish finding systems are best for medium to large size boats and offer multiple display views.

How Does Fishfinder Work? Can It Catch Fish for You?

Even though a typical fish finder can't really catch fish for you, (that's why it's called fish finder, not catcher) it does do a pretty good job at determining where a fish is. And the way it all works is really ingenious!

So, the signal produced by a transmitter gets converted into a sound wave by an underwater transducer (the device in question is hydrophone) and then it gets sent back into the water. As the signal travels and hits something in the water, be it fish or a rock or a piece of junk, it will bounce back and carry some pretty valuable pieces of information with it, such as its shape, size, composition, and distance.

Modern-day fish finders are also able to find different types of fish depending on their body temperature levels, which further makes a fish searching party even easier and more precise. Also, many models nowadays are equipped with various pieces of software enabling you to go back to the exact spot you frequented before.

This can be true of great help as the scenery in the wilderness can undergo some pretty dramatic changes in the space of only a couple of weeks. For this option, you'd probably have to thank the GPS systems that are often included in these devices. These programs are often called the 'trackback' features, as they make it possibly for you to track back your previous locations.

How To Read A Fish Finder? 

You may have already read in the Best Fish Finder Reviews so far, that fish finders area as easy to use as a mobile phone. And they're right! You don't really need any additional knowledge or expertise to understand the basics of how a fish finder works.

Typically, the device recognizes several types of objects and living creatures that swim or just stand there underneath the surface. So, whether it is rock or fish, the sonar-equipped on your fish finder will detect it sooner or later. But there's a catch in that. Even though most modern sonar devices have these values pre-calculated, what you need to pay attention to is latency, especially if you're on a boat and going fast, as what you see on the monitor could as well be a correct reading, but from a minute ago.

Another factor to consider other than the speed of the vessel you're on is the frequency of the signal. This value is determined by how often the image on the display is updated with new signals. The higher the frequency the more precise the device will be! (a nice little rhyme for the fishermen of the modern age; by the way, we're sure that even some of the Best Fish Finder Reviews don't really contain fishermen's poetry on this very level)

The rest of the data and values on the screen are fairly easy to read: there's a number there telling you about the exact depth that the object in question is at, and then some fish finders come equipped with temperature gauges, so there isn't too much stuff to calculate or think about other than adjusting your fishing equipment and catching you some big fish!

Top Rated Fish Finder Reviews

#1 Best Fish Finder for Your Money! - Garmin Striker 4 GPS

Featuring a simple design that looks like a mobile phone from the early 2000's, this plucky little fish-locatin' device packs a powerful sonar punch, and it's likely to unearth, (or rather, 'unwater') any and all species of fish, no matter how small and elusive!

The images that are sent back to the display are fairly detailed and show entire patches of the underwater life that you can use to your advantage on your fishing trip. For example, you can see what areas to avoid as they contain too much junk and seaweed underwater, and so avoid getting your bait 'n' hooks all tangled up and useless.

Of course, one of the more obvious advantages of having one of these little search engines is that they enable you to, what else- find some fish! The powerful CLEARVÜ sonar installed on this device is capable of finding fish even in murky waters and those with lots of underwater natural obstacles, such as crevices and mini-caves.

When it comes to controlling this Navy Seal-worthy piece of fisherman's gadgetry, the procedure is as simple as it gets. You get a couple of dedicated buttons and each of them has its specific role so there's really no room for any serious errors or miscalculations. This might be particularly encouraging for young or inexperienced users who'd like to give these new high-tech appliances a go! Furthermore, the display is available in three different sizes: 3.5, 5, and 7 inches, which can be great for older people or those with poor eye vision.

For those who are inclined to do a bit of exploring every now and then, the new Waypoint feature will put a smile on their face! (all the best fish finder reviews talk about it) It makes it possible to mark and map the locations you've already visited so that you can keep track of the spots you liked, and then perhaps those you weren't really too fond of. It remembers every nook and cranny of the places you've been frequenting, so your only job is to go further, where no fish finder-wielding fishermen gone before, and find a new ecosystem all for yourself!

If you're working on a fishfinder tighter budget, or don't really need an elaborate piece of fish-finding gadgetry in the first place, this compact device from Garmin can be an excellent option for you. It's small but plucky and can be a nifty addition to your fishing gear. Also, the price is just above a hundred bucks! What's not to love?


  • A powerful CLEARVÜ sonar
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Features a waypoint map
  • Contains an inbuilt flasher


  • The customer service might not be the best one around for this product

#2 Raymarine - Dragonfly 7 Pro - A futuristic high-tech device boasting US Navionics

Sporting an attractive appearance of a car GPS system, this Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro is a tough, yet simply-operated piece of fishing gadgetry that will help you get tonnes of fish whenever you go out on an outdoor adventure. It doesn't even have to be a fishing trip! (consult the Best Fish Finder Reviews and they'll all tell you)

To start off, let's get the CHIRP technology out of the way. This system is one of the most well-known and beloved aspects of modern fish finders, as it represents an advanced sonar system able to display even the most remote parts of the river bed or whatever the sea surface is in question in your case.

The department in which the Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro's CHIRP system excels, in particular, is the DownVision section, which manages to encapsulate even the tiniest of movements beneath the surface of the water and register them clearly on the display of this device. This is especially important if you're fishing in deep waters. Typically, the deeper the water, the weaker the signal will become, which leads to the resulting reading being increasingly inaccurate and difficult to track.

The depth limit for this device to function in an optimal way is some 180 meters. Any deeper than that and the signal will become unusable due to its weakness and inaccuracy. If you want to find out more about the depth levels read some of the other Best Fish Finder Reviews that talk specifically about it.

Another interesting feature that might intrigue the tech-geeks among fishermen is the Wi-Fi connectivity. You can connect to your tablet or smartphone and stream the data directly to your device of choice and then read it back later on with the help of the Raymarine Wi-fish app. Possibly the best depth finder money can buy. A must-have for a true connoisseur.


  • Enhanced CHIRP technology perfect for deep water explorations
  • Clear photo images and reading charts
  • Advanced GPS system for easy tracking
  • A Wi-Fi feature that you can connect to your phone or tabletBright LCD display that doesn't fog up


  • A bit expensive for its size

#3 Raymarine - Dragonfly 5 Pro - Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a fish-finder! (Top Rated)

Another car GPS-looking contraption coming from the Raymarine company comes in the shape of this Dragonfly 5 Pro fish finder device, and judging from its technical characteristics it doesn't lag too much behind the previous model. Since this device was constructed with some rugged conditions in mind, the manufacturers paid much attention to the quality of the display and its build.

The screen itself is 5 inches long, and it features an all-weather protective layer, shielding it from both from the elements and from the improper handling. For keeping it well-lit and always visible, a bunch of LED backlights has been included in the design of this fish finder. This means you can use it equally successfully whether you go out fishing in the daylight or in the middle of the night. Also, it's important to mention that no internal fogging will appear no matter how intense the fog is outside. The screen possesses some pretty wide viewing angles as well, so the entire image is easy to follow. For more info on viewing angles, consult some of the other Best Fish Finder Reviews. They should be able to tell you more.

Like the aforementioned model, the Dragonfly 5 has a Wi-Fi connectivity feature enabling you to send images and readings to and fro your tablet, phone or any other appliance you may have on you. Using the specifically-developed Wi-Fish software, you can share your daily catch with your friends on social media, or store it for later so that you can write some of the Best Fish Finder Reviews using that experience!

The CHIRP sonar that this device utilizes has been split into two channels: one for typical underwater exploits, and the other for some advanced deep-water expeditions.

Boasting a tough display able to survive a hurricane, and a powerful dual-channel sonar, this Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro is a force the local fish population will have to reckon with! It also has Wi-Fi and a micro SD memory card, so tech geek fishermen and women are going to love it. All in all, a tough and technologically advanced fish-findin' contraption that's well rounded in every respect.


  • All weather LED backlit display
  • Dual-channel sonar for deep underwater search parties
  • Wi-Fish mobile app for sharing your efforts on social media
  • Features a removable mounting ballUses optional micro SD memory


  • You may experience some power issues down the road

Lowrance - HDS-7 Fishfinder Scanplotter - A juggernaut among the fish finding devices! (Editor's Choice)

Another great model coming from Lowrance comes in the shape of this HDS-& Scanplotter, and if we take its features into consideration it doesn't really come as that much of a surprise that its one of the top rated fish finder models to be released by the Lowrance folks in the recent period.

First off, there's a large, easy-to-see 7-inch display meaning that anyone can find their way using one of these. Perhaps even the fish in the water may take a gander at what's going on now and then, but then again it's a tough chance they'll be able to put two and two together, so you needn't really worry about it ruining your lucrative fishing trip.

The display is lit by a simple LED system so you'll be able to see where you're heading even in the pitch dark. If you're somewhere in Africa, this feature will also work great, with the downside of crocodiles being attracted to it all the time. We're joking, of course, crocodiles aren't really attracted by light all that much. Besides, chances are you're going to spot a croc first, rather than the other way around using if you've got one of these high-performing Lowrance contraptions on your side.

When it comes to the actual high-tech stuff that propels this plucky device into the heart of the murky and uncertain waters, it certainly doesn't lag far behind its impressive display. The CHIRP sonar we've already mentioned in one of the Best Fish Finder Reviews above is a feature worth taking into consideration, for example. It follows a simple principle of sending a series of chirp-like signals into the depths of whatever water surface you find yourself on, and then records and tracks back whatever it's been able to find down there. If you're intrigued by this principle, see some of the other Best Fish Finder Reviews to learn more.

There's also the so-called StructureScan which works in co-op with the aforementioned advanced CHIRP search engine. Together they create an advanced grid-like structure precisely pinpointing the location of unfortunate fish and any nearby objects that could potentially present an obstacle for your fishing course.

The reasoning behind this editor's choice is quite a simple one: More power! More fish! While this exquisite piece of fishing technology packs perhaps the most powerful sonar punch of them all, it all does come at quite a price. With the money you'd need to spend on this HDS-7 you can buy two cars and a rather sizeable meal! However, if you're an avid fisherman, and especially if you do it for a living, we'd say that investment would be money well spent.


  • Features a large 7-inch display
  • Easy-to-use touch-screen interface
  • Utilizes advanced fish finder technology
  • Plug-and-play compatibility
  • Integrated Wireless Connectivity


  • A bit pricey (though its features are quite probably worth it)

Garmin - Echo 551dv Worldwide - Featuring a large display and tough build

Another entry for Garmin hell-bent on tracking and marking for death as much innocent fish as possible comes in the shape of this Echo Worldwide model (some of the best fish finder reviews recognize its tenacity as well). The design of this model differs somewhat from that of the aforementioned model, but all in all, you can see a certain pattern in their design choices.

Perhaps the biggest difference you'll notice straight away with this model is its curiously positioned display standing to the left side of the device. To the right side, there are only four buttons to control this entire thing, so you'll probably have to go through a certain getting-used-to stage with this model. On the upside, however, the big spacious display clearly showing you the mapped area beneath you more than makes up for this! (after all, what we see on the display is the most important part of a fish-finding device, and you'll find this confirmed in all the best fish finder reviews out there)

The screen resolution of this Garmin apparatus is 640x480 VGA, which is enough to offer a clear visual representation of what is going on underneath the surface of the water. Also, it's in color, so you'll differentiate between various objects, animals, species of fish, and hopefully, treasure troves much easier than you would have with some of the older models.

The image is presented to you in two ways: it's featured both horizontally and vertically, meaning that you can see the results of your search on both axes at the same time. This can significantly increase chances of a fish popping up on your display and you eventually catching it.

Similarly to the model we've described previously, this one, too, offers a way to look into your previous water-bound undertakings and how you fared in each and every of them. The sonar rewind option means that you'll be able to see the locations you already visited and see the concentration of fish and different objects spread throughout it all over again. The maximum depth it can research amounts to some 2,300 feet, which is more than enough for the most river environments you're likely to visit.


  • A large, easy to read displa
  • Comes with a power cable and documentation
  • Includes a quick release mount


  • The transducer cable could be longer

Lowrance - HDS9 Gen2 Touch Insight Display - A heavy-duty touch-screen-featurin' fish finder beast

Coming from a well-known company called Lowrance, this powerful fish finding device looks as though it's about not only to find you some fish but also electrocute it afterward! Tough stuff, indeed.

It comes with an SD card slot, so you can expand your memory to a great extent without ever worrying about running out of space to stack your favorite fishing locations on. The majority of the software that comes with this powerful little device was present so that it functions in an optimal way and help you find the fish you were looking for as quickly as possible. Of course, you can always update and modify the existing default configuration and set it in a way that will match your fishing style and pace.

For those interested in the innards of the mapping business, there's also an option to turn the Navionics charts on, so that you can see the coordinates of each and every location you've visited so far. Another interesting display feature is the option to turn the 3D view on, meaning that all of the locations and the unfortunate fish underneath the surface about to get caught will be seen clearly and with a small margin of error.

If you're often concerned about the weather conditions outside and you don't want to be caught up in a middle of a storm while on a boat, or you're simply British, the Sirius weather displaying feature is going to put a smile on your face as it takes all of the guesswork out of the game plan. Simply consult this versatile device and see for yourself! With one of these on your side, you can relax and concentrate on your fishing undertakings instead of worrying whether or not you'll be electrocuted by a violent thunderstorm that waits just around the corner.

Counting as more of a high-tech feature, there is the touch-screen technology, meaning there aren't any buttons you need to pay attention to.


  • Comes with a base map
  • Features an SD card format
  • Preloaded cartography
  • 3D perspective view available
  • Touch-screen controllability


  • The cord could have been a bit longer

Hummingbird - Helix 7 Fishfinder - Featuring a tough build and easy to use

Simply-designed and featuring a number of impressive technical characteristics, this Hummingbird Helix 7 can really make your fishing trip a lucrative one. The display is high-resolution 16:9 ratio, and it offers a clear and easy-to-follow imagery you can rely on. For additional protection, the screen is covered with a thick layer of glass so you needn't really worry about anything coming between you and your beloved fishing companion. Some of the Best Fish Finder Reviews talk about this in more detail.

The glass also possesses an anti-glare coating meaning that you'll be able to see what's going on the display whether the weather is sunny, overcast or pitch dark. The resolution is 480 x 800 pixels and even if this doesn't sound as much, you'll probably be able to see clearly the displayed data and every other relevant piece of information.

The tech geeks among you eager fishermen will especially appreciate that the majority of the standard features commonly found on this model have been tampered with. For example, the HELIX processor was reinforced and finely tuned so that it calculates left and right like a hungry calculating fishermen's genitalia-biting piranha!

It was also somehow tweaked to multitask a proper load of advanced software. Some of the high-tech-sounding programs or apps you may enjoy using at an enhanced speed would include Lake Master, Auto Chart, Auto Chart Pro and a number of others we couldn't pronounce.


  • A glass-bonded display for additional protection
  • A powerful buffed-up HELIX processor capable of rendering even the densest river beds
  • Supports additional software such as Lake Master and Auto Chart
  • An SD slot


  • The offer does not include any means of attaching it to your boat

Hummingbird - HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder - Big display, small buttons

Boasting a TFT 9-incher (screen), this model coming from Hummingbird is yet another example of the ingenuity of the engineers at this great company. The device's got a big screen AND a load of buttons to putter with! Three of them are for programming apparently, and according to the manufacturer's themselves the process is a piece of cake.

The display features an LED backlight, so you can use this device in all surroundings at all times of day and night. (and possibly eclipse; in which case- wear glasses)

The sonar mounted on this rather simple-looking device is quite a powerful one, and it goes by the name of 'The dual beam PLUS sonar'. Together with another piece of technology called the Switch Fire, it's capable of delivering up to 4000watts of PTP power, which is enough not only to find some fish, but also to electrocute them at a distance, or maybe blow them up.It's got a dual card reader, so you'll be able to stick all of your previously mapped out sites, venues and hard-to-reach fish-infested areas on two separate cards and have twice as many pieces of data you can use the unsuspecting bike or an unfortunate crappie swimming about its 'fishy' business.

Furthermore, thanks to the GPS chart plotting, you'll be able to always pinpoint the exact area of the most frequent fish activity, so that you can come back to it later to get some more caught in your net, or wherever you hold them.

The entire software package, so to speak, which comes with this device is completely upgradable, so you can upgrade one piece of programming after the other, as soon as the updated versions of them have been released.


  • A big 9-inch display
  • 3 programmable buttons for performing some fine 'tuning' for your fish finder
  • The software is completely upgradable
  • Features a gimbal or optimal in-dash mount


  • Some users may dislike that there are too many buttons

Hummingbird - Helix 5 SL Fish Finder - A GPS Chartplotter, and also it has an SD slot

Another model coming from Hummingbird that's absolutely positively brim-filled with buttons is the Helix 5 SL Fish Finder, and in comparison to the Helix 9 we've described in the passages above, it's worth mentioning that this one stands at roughly 4/5ths of its big brother's price. This can be a valuable piece of information if you're a fan of the Hummingbird devices but work on a smaller budget for the time being. Some of the Best Fish Finder Reviews say so, too!

When it comes to locating yourself as you're trying to find you some fish while you're on one of yours outdoorsy excursions, the part to see would be the precision internal GPS Chartplotting with built-in UniMap cartography.

For saving your maps, and otherwise managing the spots on your charts you've discovered so far, there's an additional micro SD slot where you can insert yet another memory card to introduce some new data. All in all, possibly the best fish finder for the money.


  • Includes precision GPS chart plotting
  • Built-in Unimap cartography
  • Additional SD slot for introducing even more content into your fish finder


  • The preloaded mapping could have been better

Lowrance - Hook-4 Downscan Fishfinder - Compact and featuring Downscan technology

For those working on a smaller budget, or who don't really need a heavy-duty fish-finding apparatus, this Lowrance Downscan Fishfinder model can be a perfect solution, as it is small, reliable and doesn't cost nearly as much as the model described above, for example.

To start off, a couple of words about the display. Even though it measures just 4 inches, which is almost half the size of the Lowrance Scanplotter model, the screen on this little nifty fish finder still manages to cover a great expanse of the underwater terrain and present it to you in an easy-to-read way. For people having trouble with vision, it may be a bit difficult to get used to in the beginning, but with time, the interface becomes more familiar so that taking a look at the readings becomes a routine sort of thing.

The sonar technology behind this device is similar to that of the previous one, and it's called the CHIRP sonar program. This name stems from the fact that the sonar fitted on this device sends bursts of signals into the water, and then takes them back to different lengths, as sonar devices tend to do. The frequency and precision of this system make up a clear and easy-to-read image on the display so that you know where the fish are at any given moment. (well, not necessarily literally in any given moment, but it does refresh quite regularly)

The ASP or advanced signal processing is another handy tech feature on this model, and some of the Best Fish Finder Reviews have confirmed this to be true. It pretty much does all the dirty work for you, so that you can enjoy your time fishing without having to perform complex calculations about the underwater phenomena and fish swimming patterns. Thanks to this system, you'll need to readjust your settings only rarely, when you want to see introduce a new terrain to your map, or when you're revisiting a location which has changed in the meantime. All in all, a plucky little reasonably-priced fish finder!


  • Images in high-resolution
  • Features a CHIRP sonar technology
  • Advanced Signal Processing does all the tough calculating work for you
  • Trackback feature for revisiting your favorite locationsAn easy-to-use page selector menu


  • The instructions are not particularly detailed in all fairness

Garmin - Striker 7SV - Tough design and precise GPS

The third entry on this best fish finder reviews list is another model from the well-known Garmin coming your way. Featuring the biggest display of the three, this powerful little fish-seeking contraption is a reliable and precise way to locate even the most elusive fast swimmers of the underwater world! All the best fish finder reviews seem to be talking about it.

As the manufacturers themselves like to claim, this Striker 7SV depth finder is one of the toughest 'n' rugged appliances they've come up with recently, and if we take into consideration its business meaning outdoorsy appearance, we can clearly see that they weren't really just full of hot air.

What's more, the tough vibe of this fisherman's companion isn't only surface-deep, as its build also tells a heavy-duty maritime story on its own. The important thing is that you can take this little device with you wherever you plan to go and be sure that it will not break down easily no matter how much abuse you hurl at it.

If you like to mark the places you've had the most success in, this model might be a great solution for you, as it features a rugged design that tells you exactly where you were the last time you deployed at, so that you can come back to that precise location whenever you want. This advanced feature works thanks to the powerful GPS system, which locates and memorizes with ease even the most hard-to-reach places where few fishermen have been before. You can find out in detail about this in some of the Best Fish Finder Reviews dedicated to GPS's in particular.

As with the previous two models, the Striker 7SV also features a waypoint map. Using this handy feature, you can pinpoint the exact locations and positions of even the tiniest pieces of underwater scenery, such as rocks, pieces of scrap and other imperfections of the underwater terrain.

The sonar itself works in a somewhat updated way, with a specialized CHIRP technology sending the individual signals at a high speed. In this way, the map of the underwater surface you're scanning is updated and refreshed often so you'll be getting nothing but the data about the activities down beneath.


  • A tough design perfect for some heavy-duty outdoors action
  • Highly sensitive GPS system
  • A waypoint map
  • A built-in flasher


  • The transducer included in the package only fits the flat-hulled boats

A Fish Finder Buying Guide For Catching Fish:

How to get yourself a tonne on fish via satellite?

So, What's The Big Deal? What Is A Fish Finder?

To put it simply, a fish finder, also known as sounder in Australia, is a piece of high-tech fishing equipment that is able to locate the fish underwater. Basically, it functions like any other sonar would - it sends out pulses of sound energy away from itself and then records them as they come back. Since these sound waves are reflected from various underwater objects, they carry valuable pieces of information such as depth and shape of the object back to the instrument.

Nowadays, fish finders come fully-equipped with colored displays, so the person operating the device can have a clearer picture of what's going on underneath them. This makes it possible for them to concentrate on their other pieces of equipment and managing to catch a great amount of fish without too much invested effort. For this reason, fish finders are typically used by commercial fishermen, who use it regularly to locate big schools of fish so that they can catch them easily and earn more money. For more info about their exploits, consult some of the best fish finder reviews that can be found in the murky waters of the Internet.

However, sports fishermen use these useful little contraptions quite eagerly as well. As fishermen are well-known as people who like to brag about their catch and show it to everybody, it's no wonder really that they would use a device that is capable of finding the biggest meanest fish in the pond! If we take into consideration the whopping amount of new technology that can be paired up with one of these appliances you've got yourself a fishermen's new best companion.

Choosing the Best Fish Finder for Your Needs

That being said, a fish finder isn’t exactly a cheap item. Consequently, you want to do some research. Let me tell you what you should look for so you can be an empowered shopper. You’ll find the right device for you in this expanded review of the best rated fish finders.

GPS-Enabled Fish Finders

In this age, no decent fish finder should lack a GPS function. Many fishermen get carried away with flashy options and features on new fish finders. In the process, they get to overlook the most basic of amenities that should come with the gadget. Don’t let the power ratings, catchy fish alarms and trendy displays fool you.

At the end of the day, it is fish that you’re after, and you need a decent fish finder to do that. You may encounter heavy fancy words once in a while such as sonar, transducer, etc. but all of them are mere rhetoric if your desired gadget lacks a GPS function. GPS takes care of you before, during and after your fishing outing. Once in a while in our quest for a large haul, we tend to stray too far. That is the point where you realize that you are lost. A fish finder with a good GPS function will point you back to familiar waters, and you can go back home safe.

A fish finder with good GPS systems enables you to make your own unique maps. Many times you will find yourself in unchartered waters. The most logical thing then is to mark your own movements so that next time you can proceed from where you ended your last trip. On this aspect, I recommend a recent release of a Hummingbird or Lowrance fish finder.

You may have to fork out some more bucks for a GPS – enabled fish finder but it is totally worth it. That difference may just be the determining factor between you having a successful fishing trip or getting lost in unfamiliar waters. Never go back home empty handed after a fishing trip!

Down Scan vs. Side Scan vs. Combo

Your desired gadget should have the relevant sonar capability synonymous with your fishing needs. Down scan sonar and side scan sonar are both excellent orientations. However, each of them has areas where it is most effective. For still waters, for example, side scan is your best bet because your fish finder will broadcast the signal in an outward spiral from your boat.

On turbulent waters, though, down scan works best. It will focus on the region directly under the fishing boat. On waters that pose for you a mix of both calm and turbulent segments on the waypoints, a combination of side scan and down scan will do for you. Quite predictably, it’s called a “combo.” Each of these approaches has its strengths and weaknesses, however.

Down Scan

A fish finder with down scan will provide you with enhanced detail. You can identify a particular fish within a large school. Accuracy is also enhanced with a range of at least forty feet deep. The disadvantage of down scan fish finders is so hilarious that it’s ridiculous. Down scan fish finders are so powerful that they are almost rendered useless in shallow waters.

When used in shallow waterways, what you get back is a reflection. This will result in an ambiguous blur on your screen when you try to make a reading. At best, you may have to read just the power of your signal. You may also miss out on the goings-on around your boat when you use the down scan. It takes some fun out of the entire fishing experience.

Side Scan

A fish finder with side scan will obviously let you will cover more ground (or water?) as you look for fish. You will be working at a radius of approximately 100 feet at every instance of your boat trip. There is no telling how much coverage you will have had after 5 hours of fishing. Unlike the down scan approach, you do not need to move to the exact point or area that interests you.

You can sample it from afar, and if it has the potential for a huge catch, then you can zero in. Noise reduction is probably the greatest benefit of side imaging. The signal is outward. In deep waters, however, side scan is greatly hampered. You get more hindrance from debris as well.


Best Fish Finders For The Monney

If you dabble between shallow and deep waters during your fishing excursions, a fish finder with a combination of side scan and down scan will be your best option. Your dilemma has been worked out for you. Personally, I opted for a fish finder that took from the best of both worlds. That comes in the form of the Humminbird Helix 5 SI GPS.

Do not make the mistake of going for a cheap fish finder just for the sake of it. Most of these come with enhanced portability but may not offer great benefit eventually. Fixed fish finders do take a lot of time and effort to install as compared to portable ones. However, the result is usually justified. Then again there is the difference between initial cost and overall cost. An expensive fixed fishfinder will serve you for ages.

In retrospect, the only advantage portable fish finders offer is the ease of installation. You won’t be required to do any drilling at all. They come in handy if your boat is rented. Casual fishermen also find them very useful. However, they are very unstable. If you happen to run into turbulent waters, your inexpensive fish finder may get washed away by the current. The suction cups used to secure them on your boat may not withstand high trolling speeds too. You also get inconsistent results every time.

I am lucky enough to have tried different fish finders in different places and had the absolute pleasure of toying around with my fish finders on various fishing vessels. It is good practice to confirm the package that comes with the fish finder that you prefer. Things like fish finder mounts and transducers are sometimes treated as extra accessories. This shouldn’t occur with modern fish finders, but once in a while, you may be confronted with such queries.

Whether you are bound to use all the fish finder’s accessories or not shouldn’t be up for debate. The same way you purchase a smartphone complete with chargers and earphones is the same way you should buy fish finders. Get that fish finder that has a transducer. Just because you don’t need a transducer at the moment does not mean that you won’t need it in the future.

Using Your Fish Finder: Best Practices

Is this your first time using a fish finder? This section of my guide to selecting the best fish finder is for you! I’ll give you a quick overview of how to use most fish finding models.

Let’s start with a video for you visual learners out there.

Chirpin' signals and good ole fishin' tactics: How it was done before the modern colored fish finders

Best rated fish finders

In the early stages of the rapid development of fish finders, the devices didn't really possess any mean of tracking down your favorite locations or memorizing anything, for that matter. What you would get out of such an early version of this exquisite apparatus pretty much amounted to a sonar with a couple of flickering bulbs that would tell you when it came across something fishy!

There were typically two bulbs. One would flash non-stop to let you know that the signal is getting transmitted to and fro the designated location, and the other would turn on only when you'd encounter a fish or a fish-like creature. This principle was quite a simple one, and even though some modern manufacturers of the best fish finder models would say that the early versions were merely the bare bones, there are also people who would defend that bunch of bones six ways till Sunday!

When they entered the market, fish finders stirred up quite a lot of controversy among sports fishermen, as the entire outdoors activity of fishing suddenly needed to be reinvented and questioned. The art of finding great fishing spots or making them yourself by feeding and attracting the nearby fish was undermined in a way by this new revolutionary contraption that could do exactly that with the help of a battery or two. It's no surprise really, that many fishermen and women from the older generation were left completely heartbroken because of this.

However, as there's a silver lining to everything, even they gradually accepted this high-tech method, admitting that there is quite a lot of space still left to have fun catching fish, even with one of these smarty-pants devices strapped to your boat!


Fish finder or not, fishing will always be what it is- a great outdoors activity that can only be enhanced with new technology! On that bombshell, we'll conclude our review hoping that the models we've presented above and the passages about how this device works helped you understand and appreciate the new trends, even if you're an old sea dog that catches fish with their bare hands. Or maybe even teeth!